There are some films that aren’t worth reviewing.
Before I review The Avengers (spoilers: Tony Stark is Iron Man), what is it with the pro-mining company trailer? I don’t know why they’re advertising. Or what they’re advertising. The advert feels like it was cobbled together by first year media students. A man with weird ears sits far too close to the camera and informs us all about how important it is to understand kids… It takes a while before we discover that ‘understand kids’ is code for ‘send them down mines’. It seems somewhat retrogressive to be spruiking the advantages of sending kids down mines, but there you go.
Where I was left feeling ‘Australian mining companies are creepy’, the advert for the Australian navy which followed it immediately sure did make me want to join the army. It seemed painfully hilarious that the government has a communication problem and continues to battle the extremely wealthy mining companies, and yet the government isn’t the one with the goddawful advert.
Anyway, back to the film review. Imagine you want to have sex with somebody. As you’re thinking up ingenious and completely legal ways to seduce the object of your affection (an ugly phrase; forgive it), you remember some wacky romcom where sexy fun times happened after one person cooked for the other. But what to cook? It has to be fancy, so you create a list of all the fancy meals. Lobster. French onion soup. Caviar. Foie gras. Sashimi.
Then you decide to stick in all in a blender.
The resultant mush would basically be the culinary equivalent of The Avengers. There are lots of wonderful bits which — let it not be denied for a second — are really enjoyable, but the overall composition is a struggling mess.
The film follows… Ummmm… The film is about… Errrrr… Well, there’s this MacGuffin, right, and it’s some sort of power source but it’s also a portal and there’s this nasty god who needs the MacGuffin as a power source even though he’s a god and he… Uhhhhhh… So there are these aliens and they live on an asteroid on the other side of the universe but they’ve decided that they want to kill all the humans so they send an evil god… Hmmmmm… Robert Downey Jr is in it!
To give a plot synopsis of this film is akin to giving a plot synopsis of a roller coaster ride. There are bits which go up. There are bits which go down. If you look for meaning, you’ll be disappointed.
But it’s still a lot of fun. I laughed a lot. Whenever I stopped to think ‘Where am I up to in the story? Why are these characters doing this?’ the illusion evaporated. Stage magicians don’t have tricks which last hours. Roller coasters end after a few minutes. The film can’t silence the niggly questions for its entire duration.
Early in the piece, we visit Germany. Why? Because we wanted a hamfisted Godwin.
When the good guys capture the bad guy, they put him in the place where he can do the greatest possible amount of damage. Why? Because he needs to cause a lot of damage to get the story to the next chapter.
When the bad guys attack, the Avengers attack them in the least efficient way possible. Why? Because we need twenty minutes of cool fighting scenes. And they are cool — don’t get me wrong — but I sort of felt like I was watching somebody play a video game stupidly.
And so on and so forth. None of the characters make sense. I mean that both in the ‘I couldn’t work out why they were doing half the things they were doing’ sense and in the ‘What the hell are they babbling about? Did Tony Stark just say “Reverse the polarity and run in through MatLab”?’ sense.
One character in particular (I won’t spoil it, but it’s the Hulk) goes through all of his character development in negative seconds. ‘I am moping about this helicopter because I need to keep in control of my Hulk rage… oh wait, I can control it now. Don’t worry.’
And there are places where there is so much going on that it feels like the story is getting away from Whedon (who directed). The bad guys’ plan is so convoluted and lacking any sort of motivation that it’s hard to follow the action. All of the main characters hit puberty at once, so it’s hard to follow their emo angsting. It’s an occupational hazard with team movies: all the characters are doing all the things at the same time, how do you follow it all?
The performances from the majority of the cast are excellent. The notable exception is Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye). Hawkeye is crap.
Do you know why the debate in the US about the right to bear arms is about guns? Because we freaking invented them. Guns are a thing. They exist. Do you know why the debate in the US about the right to bear arms isn’t about bows and arrows? Because we invented guns. Guns replaced bows and arrows. Guns replaced bows and arrows because, in every single way, guns are better than bows and arrows.
Spoiler alert: the Avengers are attacked by a large number of enemies. Iron Man has a billion little guns sewn into his armour. When the baddies attack, Stark’s taking them out by the dozen. Hawkeye, meanwhile, is picking them off one by one, mostly at random.
At one point, he shoots backwards and hits a guy. Hawkeye clearly thinks that shows how wicked cool he is. Hawkeye doesn’t seem to realise that there are so many bad guys that he could have shot in any direction and hit somebody. Oh, unless he pointed it straight at the ground. Congrats, Hawkeye, you didn’t point it straight at the ground. Tiny claps for you.
Do you know who would have been a much better addition to the Avengers’ roster? Ms Marvel. Even Wasp would have been a good addition (she was an original Avenger in the comics). But that would have interrupted the Avengers’ sausagefest. (And before anybody mentions Black Widow — played by ScarJo — remember, she’s their secretary. She runs around to get the guys together, then her relevance to the movie vanishes).
My bleeding heart issues aside, it’s an enjoyable film. It is funny and there are lots of fights. If you want a film that is funny and has a lot of fights in it, go see The Avengers. Just don’t expect it to make any sense.